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Truck GPS Systems

One of the biggest temptations many novice truckies face is to use their existing automotive GPS unit to plot routes for their truck. Unfortunately for them, this is a very bad idea. While standard car navigation and GPS systems can often find a route to your destination, neither their route programming nor their onboard maps are optimised for heavy haulage use.

GPS Basics

All GPS systems work on the same basic principles: the receiver uses timing signals from the satellite constellation to determine your exact location on Earth. At any given time most receivers can track up to eight satellites, with three being enough for a two-dimensional fix, and four satellites for a three-dimensional fix. Your GPS then compares your calculated location to its onboard map and displays it on the screen.

Mobile Trade Offs

Many people also use their mobiles for GPS. The first problem with this is that most mobiles do not come with a dedicated trucking GPS app. The second strike is that mobile phones tend to download map data, as they need it. If you don't have signal, you don't have your map. Purpose-built GPS devices store their maps onboard so you always have your map right in front of you.

Trucking GPS Advantages

The primary reason for using a true trucking GPS is the database. Truck GPS units route you only along routes your truck can follow. There's no need to worry about the dreaded "recalculating" because you can't take that turn your car GPS or mobile told you to take. That's especially helpful when you have to budget fuel use before the trip.

Using a Truck GPS

The first thing you do when planning a route with a truck GPS is enter your dimensions and load type. This allows the GPS to automatically eliminate roads where your truck won't fit under bridges or can't make the turns. Only then does the system plan your route. Many models also offer real-time traffic updates as you drive.

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